NRL: Wests Tigers beat Dragons 22-12 in gutsy victory
By Wayne Cousins
Saturday 11 August 2012 9:15 PM
NRL: Wests Tigers beat Dragons 22-12 in gutsy victory
A hat-trick to full-back Tim Moltzen and some Benji Marshall magic led Wests Tigers to a gutsy 22-12 win over St George-Illawarra Dragons at Allianz Stadium tonight.
A crowd of 10,546 braved terrible wet and cold conditions to see Wests Tigers secure the vital two competition points to move to 26 points with three rounds remaining. The win gives the eighth placed Wests Tigers a four point gap subject to other weekend results.
The Dragons opened the scoring in the 11th minute when winger Brett Morris found some open space down the left flank before chipping over the top of full-back Tim Molten to regather the ball to score out wide for a 4-0 lead. Centre Chase Stanley failed to convert the try.
Two minutes later, hooker Mitch Rein caught the Wests Tigers marker defence napping when he planted the ball down from dummy half for an 8-0 lead. Stanley missed the conversion attempt.
Wests Tigers scored a vital try in the 38th minute when Moltzen ran off a pass by half-back Benji Marshall to brush off Stanley and Jamie Soward to score in the left corner. Marshall failed to convert the try from the sideline to leave Wests Tigers trailing 8-4 at half-time in heavy rain.
A good inside ball by Marshall five minutes after half-time saw five-eighth Liam Fulton run off his hip to score next to the posts for an 8-all scoreline. Marshall converted the try to give Wests Tigers a 10-8 lead.
Moltzen grabbed his second try in the 50th minute when he dived on a grubber kick from hooker Robbie Farah to score behind the posts. The try was awarded on a benefit of the doubt after Moltzen and Dragons second-rower Ben Creagh touched the ball at the same time. Marshall converted the try to give Wests Tigers a 16-8 lead after 51 minutes.
Fulton was denied his second try in the 56th minute when he was ruled to be offside after a grubber kick from Farah was played at by the Dragons but the ball also hit the foot of Wests Tigers forward Junior Moors with Fulton in front of him.
Morris grabbed his second try in the 64th minute when the ball was shifted left for him to find open space outside Matt Utai to race down the left flank to score in the corner. Soward failed to convert the try from the sideline to leave the Dragons trailing 16-12.
Moltzen grabbed his third try when he received a no look inside pass from Marshall to score near the posts in the 71st minute. Marshall converted the try to give Wests Tigers a 22-12 lead after 73 minutes.
Moltzen hat-trick sinks Dragons’ season
August 11, 2012 - 9:31PM
A Tim Moltzen hat-trick and a controversial video referee decision all but ended St George Illawarra’s NRL finals hopes in a 22-12 loss to Wests Tigers on Saturday night.
In wind and rain, the Tigers became the first team to successfully overturn a Dragons halftime lead this season, finishing strongly with three second-half tries after trailing 8-4 at the break.
The pivotal moment in the game came in the 51st minute when Moltzen claimed his second try, pouncing on a Robbie Farah grubber to give the home side an eight-point lead at Allianz Stadium.
The decision was sent to video referee Bernard Sutton who watched more than a dozen replays involving Dragon Ben Creagh potentially getting his hand to the ball first. He eventually awarded a benefit-of-the-doubt try.
Moltzen opened the Tigers account just two minutes before the break, putting in a top shelf performance against the club he refused to join in the off-season - and erasing memories of a horror match against the Dragons in round three.
The classy fullback sealed the win and claimed his hat-trick eight minutes from time when he accepted a brilliant inside pass from Benji Marshall to cross near the posts.
Moltzen’s tries were split by one to makeshift Tigers five-eighth Liam Fulton after the visitors bolted to an eight-point lead through unconverted tries to winger Brett Morris, who also scored a double, and hooker Mitch Rein after just 14 minutes.
The visitors enjoyed the best of the opening 40 minutes with halves Nathan Fien and Ben Hornby playing to the conditions better and providing a superior kicking game to Marshall.
But Farah took control after the break, kicking with purpose and forcing a number of repeat sets in good position.
The loss leaves the Dragons four points behind eighth spot with a poor for and against and just three matches remaining, but moves the Tigers to 26 points and potentially one win from securing a finals berth.
Fien was sent to hospital after suffering an arm injury in the 50th minute, with Jamie Soward finishing the game in the halves after starting on the bench.
Inspired Marshall reigns in the rain as late-starting Tigers roar to victory
August 12, 2012
With 16 missed tackles to three, and five conceded penalties to one, it was a small miracle the Tigers were in touch at half-time. But a try to Tim Moltzen on the stroke of the break brought the score back to 8-4. The Dragons had earlier scored through Brett Morris and Mitch Rein. Morris’s 11th-minute try came when he chipped and chased past Moltzen. Three minutes later, Rein barged over from dummy half. The Tigers took the lead early in the second half when Benji Marshall put halves partner Liam Fulton in next to the posts and skipped out to a 16-8 lead when Moltzen beat Ben Creagh to a Robbie Farah in-goal grubber. Morris’s second try, on 64 minutes, reduced the gap to four points. But a sublime Marshall pass - looking left but passing right - sent Moltzen over for his third try to give the Tigers a 10-point lead.
The Dragons can maybe afford one more loss on the home stretch if they are to have any chance of playing in the finals. Even then their time might have passed as their points difference is rotten, and there were four teams equal with them on 22 points - in equal ninth - going into the round. It’s been five long years since the proud club missed out on finals footy. Making matters worse on a miserable night for the club, Nathan Fien was taken to hospital during the second half with a shoulder problem.
WHAT THE GAME TOLD US ABOUT THE TIGERS
The Tigers’ swathe of fleet-footed tricksters and ball-on-a-string kickers suggest that driving rain and wind are not their preferred playing conditions. But their forwards pierced the Dragons last night, they tightened up their corridor defence at crucial times and completed 84 per cent of their sets. The game also reminded us the Tigers are hard to shut down in second halves. ‘‘With the conditions and 8-0 down, things were looking a bit tough there,’’ Sheens said. ‘‘But the boys dug in. I was real happy with the second half in particular, being prepared to be patient, grind away, get our kicking game-chasing game happening, which was our team goal.’’
WHAT THE GAME TOLD US ABOUT THE DRAGONS
They’ve struggled to score points all season, but when they have crossed the line it’s mostly been through pace out wide or from dummy half. That’s how it was last night, as Brett Morris showed with his brace of tries and Rein showed when he barged over behind the ruck. They have also proven to be good front-runners this season but last night couldn’t stand the heat when the Tigers chased.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Tigers will have to bring their best game to ANZ Stadium next week when they face the Bulldogs. A win would be a huge confidence boost at this stage of the season. The Dragons face a huge task too, needing to win big against the Cowboys at WIN Stadium.
WHAT THEY SAID
Tigers coach Tim Sheens: ‘‘I thought our forwards controlled the yardage again against a very good pack of forwards … and handled the conditions well. There were few mistakes. It’s the sort of win we need.’’
Dragons coach Steve Price:
‘‘At the end of the day, our focus is on next week and playing the footy we know that we’re capable of playing and putting in a strong performance against the Cowboys next Monday night.’’
Dragons captain Ben Hornby:
‘‘We put ourselves in this situation. It’s ourselves to blame. No one else.’’
Moltzen’s hat-trick seals Dragons’ fate
August 12, 2012
TIM MOLTZEN has burnt St George Illawarra. Again.
The Wests Tigers fullback, who infamously reneged on a commitment to join the other joint-venture club this season, scored three tries to all but consign the Dragons to their first year without finals football since 2007.
Each of his tries was telling. One of them, scored just before half-time, kept his side in the game. The second was tinged with controversy, with video referee Bernard Sutton giving the hosts the benefit of the doubt in what appeared to be a simultaneous put-down with Ben Creagh. And the final one, the result of a brilliant no-look pass from Benji Marshall, sealed the result and, most probably, ended the Dragons’ season.
Given he was tackling the Red V when he could have been wearing it, you would assume the victory held special significance. If so, Moltzen was not letting on.
‘‘I got all of that out of the way in the first game [against the Dragons in round three],’’ he said.
''Coming here tonight was just another game for me. I prepared like it was any other game, studied the team like I usually do and tried to go out there and do my job for the team.
‘‘Like I said, I’m just happy to go out there and get the two points and can move forward.’’
Marshall, Moltzen’s former flatmate, added: ''I was very happy, I thought he stood up tonight.
‘‘His most dangerous game is his running game, so to see him run that try in just before half-time, I knew he was pretty switched on. It was a good overall performance and, yeah, really happy for Timmy.’’
Like they did against the Eels, the Tigers came from behind. This time it was only an eight-point deficit but, given the atrocious conditions, it appeared a commanding one. But after weathering the conditions - and a Dragons onslaught - they finished four tries to three victors.
In their first year under Steve Price, and their first since Wayne Bennett’s exit, the Dragons appear destined to finish in the bottom half of the ladder. Yet despite opening a four-point gap from the chasing pack on the competition ladder, Tigers coach Tim Sheens refused to declare his eighth-placed side finals certainties. Nor would he put a pen through the Dragons.
‘‘There’s still three games to go and those six points are vital. Our for-and-against has improved again, which is important tonight,’’ Sheens said. ‘‘You can’t expect the fact that they’re gone. It’s very tough for them now or any team that’s four behind us. It’s like being in front with 10 to go, you still can’t switch off.’’
Jamie Soward, after being cut to the Illawarra Cutters last weekend, was recalled to the Dragons bench. Wearing the No.14 jersey, he replaced Mitch Rein in the 29th minute and even had his first touch at dummy half before falling back into his customary pivot role. Although his performance was not spectacular, he is likely to remain in the top grade for the rest of the season after his replacement, Nathan Fien, was taken to hospital with a shoulder/arm injury.
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